Staying strong in the home of the brave
No living American could remember a war at home. Now we can.
Terrorist air attacks yesterday on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon brutally christened the 21st century with its own day that will live in infamy.
God help us, the next few days will be even harder.
Horrific television images will be converted to names and faces with family and business ties across the United States. Virtually all of us will discover a link with the lives snuffed out in New York and Washington, D.C.
This is a time to pray for the dead and for the healing of the broken and wounded, and to give thanks for the brave men and women who died trying to help others. The nation will struggle with the aftermath of Sept. 11 for decades.
American soil escaped the frontlines of two world wars, but now the home front is a target. That acknowledgment leaves a bitter taste, because sowing doubt and fear is the essence of terrorism.
Before three airplanes shattered symbols of U.S. economic and military might, the U.S. felt blessedly insulated by geography and modernity.
Already, terrorism is driving splinters between us. Should America remain true to Israel? Is this the right president for the times? Why didn't the Pentagon know this was coming? Who is to blame?
Ultimately, those questions can't be answered by facts; they are a test of who we are and whether we hold together as a nation. The next days will be even more testing than the long yesterday.
Even as flights resume today, the freedom to move around the country is tainted. Travelers will demand the return of armed sky marshals while a traumatized nation catches its breath.
Striking a balance, while striking back at our enemies, will require wisdom and strength from our leaders and ourselves. A punishing military response is predictable and necessary. No elected leadership can accept an assault such as this on a democracy and not retaliate.
Our international allies need to be involved in what comes next. World leaders from China to Brazil have been immediate with their condemnations of terrorism and expressions of sorrow. This is a moment when friendships are tested — and proven.
This is precisely the time to invoke the core assumption that binds NATO nations: An attack on one is an attack on all. The United States needs help to confront its enemies. How often has America answered that call from others? Every capability of Western Europe, Asia and Russia should be available to find those responsible for this act.
On this shaken home front, we cannot react in fear and anger. The nation must not surrender its liberties in the name of protecting them.
The rights and dignity of our neighbors are valued and safeguarded. Respect for religious freedom and ethnic diversity is not a matter of tolerance that is granted or rescinded depending on circumstances. Nowhere is that more important than here at home.
Seattle and all the hometowns nearby reacted with caution and a rippled calm.
State Patrol troopers were checking roads and bridges. Several buildings throughout the city, most notably the Space Needle, were closed. State ferries moved across Puget Sound with empty bays for fear of car bombs.
The U.S.-Canadian border shut down, then opened again. Regional malls were closed. Hydroelectric dams were on alert.
Nervous parents joined their children for lunch at area schools, and evening events were canceled.
Flags at the state Capitol in Olympia were flown at half-staff out of respect for those who died yesterday.
People in lines 100 deep waited outside Puget Sound Blood Centers to donate blood. The scene was repeated into the evening across the United States.
America, the world will learn again, is a good friend and a bad enemy.